You're the campus clown in your college. The cool and funny man. You love making everyone laugh, and everyone love you because you make them laugh. Girls always wanted to be close to you and be your friend and that’s your biggest problem. You always end up being a friend, even with your ex-girlfriends. You get asked on a date a lot, but it often goes nowhere because they can’t see you getting serious about anything, especially not with relationship, but they’re wrong. So wrong.
A woman once made you stop joking and just listen. She was Kaila De Guzman.
You and Kaila met back when you were a high school senior, and she was a student teacher. She was six-year-older than you, stoic and strict. No matter what jokes you made, she never cracked a smile, this made you frustrated. Kaila was not the prettiest girl, she was shorter than you and she looks nothing like twenty-two, she looks younger. She cleverly hid this beauty behind her lousy, and dorky way of dressing up, paired with Victorian style updo which reminded everyone of their great-great grandmothers. This intrigued you.
During one of the school break one of the girl in class grabbed you, “Hey, can you do a Jim Carrey impersonation?”
You beamed up ready to imitate the actor but stopped when Kaila walked by. “Excuse me,” you said instead and chase after Kaila. You walked past her and stop in front of her and acted in a way that made all the girls who saw it laugh, but not her.
Kaila’s eyes travelled up and down on you and say, “If you need toilet, the toilet’s over there.” She then arranged her textbooks and bag, and left you there to be embarrassed of yourself. However, after a moment, you inspected yourself. Legs squeezed together, ass up and arms cross at your chest. You laughed. “It does seems like I need to go.”
Kaila turn around, surprise but with a smile that immediately vanished the moment she met your eyes. But in that short moment, warmth spread through your heart. She smiled at you. It was the first time since she started student-teaching almost four months ago. She only had a week left but seeing that smile made you satisfied, also oddly left a whole in your heart.
The next day Steven, your best friend, stood beside you by the window as you space out while waiting for Kaila to walk by. “What’s wrong?” Steven asked.
“Nothing.” You pulled out your phone and pretended to scroll through Reedsy’s Weekly Writing Contest from the previous week. While most teenager spend their time on the latest trending social media, you secretly read stories online.
“Something is up,” Steven said, snatching your phone. He looked at the story you randomly open and put the phone back to your hand. “That’s not the kind of stories you read.”
You looked at the title and skimmed through the story. Steven was right. It was not the genre you like. You sighed and tucked your phone away. “You’re right.”
“Know it,” Steven said, proud of himself. “Everyone has been saying that you haven’t been making jokes since yesterday. What’s going on?”
“You know, Kaila.”
“Miss De Guzman,” Steven corrected.
You groaned. Ever since Steven found out of your obsession to make Kaila laugh at your antics, he has been encouraging you to stop addressing her at her first name. Kaila demanded the same thing in the beginning, but she gave up when you only do so if someone else was around. Calling her in such a formal way when you’re alone with her make your skin crawl, but only Steven knows that you still call her on her given name.
Steven spoke again. “So what’s with Miss De Guzman? Are you pissed again that she didn’t laugh at your jokes?”
“No she didn’t, but she smiled, Steve, I made her smile.” The memory made you chuckled. “And that smile felt priceless, it made me content and warm inside. But then I remember, she only has three days with us. She won’t be coming here again from next week and my heart feels empty.”
Steven covered his face. “Oh, no, no, no, buddy. You don’t want to go there.”
“Go where? I’m not talking about going somewhere.”
Steven lowered his voice so only you can hear. “I’m talking about your feelings for Miss De Guzman.”
You furrowed. “What feelings?”
Kaila round the corridor to your class and the rest of Steven’s words faded. Kaila in her over the knees skirt and oversize sweater paired with high socks. She totally got the dorky look, adorkable as you like to call it.
She will be in your class to teach English, but you can’t wait that long. You rushed out of the classroom despite Steven’s prevention.
“Good morning Kaila,” you said walking beside her.
“Good morning,” she replied without looking at you. This annoyed you a bit, but you keep going.
“You know, you’re better off as a painter than a teacher, because you colored my life that I hadn’t known was black and white.”
Kaila stopped and looked at you. Your heart skipped a bit at the sight of her face. She got dark puffy eyebags and her eyes were moist as if she was about to cry. “A child like you know nothing about living in black and white.”
The pain you saw in her eyes made you apologized and in returned made her say sorry too before scurrying away.
Again, she left you there to wonder what you were feeling.
When Kaila showed up for English subject, both of you avoided each other’s eyes.
Friday, Kaila’s last day in your high school. Ever since that strange confrontation with her at the corridor, she made a point of avoiding you. You did not chase her either. You weren’t hurt, but she slapped you with a truth you’ve been doing your best to deny. You’ve fallen for her but you’re nothing but a kid in her eyes.
You stopped making jokes the rest of the week and no one bothered you about it thanks to Steven who have been keeping an eagle eye of you.
Kaila ended English period early and made a simple goodbye speech. She thanked everyone for giving her a chance to teach. You had your chin on your desk, passionately looking at her, admiring her every word but she never turn your way.
Kaila collected her things when you noticed the class representative stood up and went to Kaila. She handed Kaila a heart shape card. You glance to Steve beside you. “Isn’t that yours?”
Kaila opened the card while Steven ignored you. The day the class representative gave it to Steven, Steven told you that it was a love letter from the class representative, but now he obviously lied.
A horrible feeling formed in the pit of your stomach. And the feeling was confirmed when Kaila closed the card. She looked directly at you with a heartbreaking expression.
You grabbed Steven’s arm. “Steve, what have you done?”
Steven looked at you apologetically. “Sorry dude, I know it was wrong of me, but I couldn’t let you know. If you did, I know you would have written something that can get both of you in trouble because someone else will read it before her.”
“Steve,” you said between gritted teeth and clenched fist. You wanted to punch him, but he was right. If you had known the card will be given to Kaila you would have done something irreparable.
Kaila tucked the card with her things and swept her gazed to the who class and smile. “Thanks again everyone. Study good,” her eyes locked with you and you were sure her next words were for you, “remember me. Goodbye.”
The bell rang and Kaila practically ran out of the classroom. You shot up from your seat but Steven grabbed your wrist. He casually shook his head, but your desperation must have shown in your face because Steven let you go with a warning. “Just be careful not to get caught.”
You nodded and casually stroll out of the class. Once you were out of everyone’s sight though, you sprinted toward the faculty room. The teachers were shock to see you, but one of them scolded you for running and getting in without knocking.
“You should be in class,” he said.
“I’m sorry sir, but I need to see Miss De Guzman.”
One of the female teacher looks at you and blushed. “She’s at the principal’s office. If you hurry you might catch her before she goes.”
You smiled at her. “Thank you ma’am.”
She beamed at you. “Good luck!”
You nod and turn to go and heard another teacher asking, “What was that all about?”
“Young love,” said the teacher who informed you about Kaila.
You plucked one of the white roses on the way to the principal’s office and hid it under your shirt. Kaila already left the office and headed toward the opposite direction carrying a box. You picked up the pace and walked beside her in no time.
If Kaila was surprised to see you, she hid it good because you saw no trace of it. “What are you doing here?” she asked.
“I forgot to give you something.”
“My heart.” Your eyes caught the heart shape card. You reach for it before she can stop you. “I want to write here too,” you said and grabbed a pen from her box and ran off.
“Hey wait!” she called up following you just as you wanted.
You went to the back of the school. A popular place for couples to hide. The green grass made a comfortable carpet while the bushes hide what should be hidden.
You sat down on the grass and open the card, reading a bit of the goodbyes and well wishes from your classmates. Steve handwriting stood out. It says, “Someone close to me will hate me for not letting him write, but we both know it’s for the best- Steven”
“Idiot,” you said and wrote under his writing. “Too bad. Steven is mistaken. I can never be stop. If you’re still single next time we meet, it means you waited for me.”
You still haven’t sign the card when Kaila appeared and took the pen from you. She then took the card too and put it back in the box. She turned but you grabbed the hem of her skirt. She glanced at your hand and with a perfect poker-face said, “What? Don’t tell me you want to steal my skirt this time.”
You chuckle and laughed but didn’t let go. “With you, I’m always the one ending up laughing.”
“Because I’m an adult.” Kaila reach out to remove your hand but you caught it instead.
You look up holding her hand. Using your other hand, you took out the white rose from your shirt. “Will you wait until I become an adult?”
Her face flushed. “What are you-”
“You know what I’m saying Kaila.”
You stood up, put the rose in her box and took it from her. She let you. You sat down and place the box on the grass. She sat down on the other side of the box, letting you know the border you both mustn’t cross. “Since when?” she asked barely a whisper.
“I don’t know, but I figured it out that day you snapped on me.”
Kaila lowered her head. “I’m sorry, I shouldn’t have done that.”
“No problem. Why were you crying?”
“I was not.”
“You were. You got large eye bags and got eyes red as white rabbits.”
Kaila laughed. “My parents didn’t agree with me being a teacher so I lied to them about my course. I revealed my secret the night before that day, and I got into a big fight with my mother.”
You nod. You have no idea what to say to make things better, so in the end you simply sat there and listened to her story. And how much she love teaching.
“What am I doing telling you all this? I should go.” Kaila grab her box but you held it in place.
“Thank you for telling me. And for whatever it’s worth, I think you’re a brilliant teacher. Your parents will see that sooner or later.”
Kaila’s eyes watered. Tears streamed down her cheeks with no sounds and you was up and beside her in no time. You puled her close and let her cry on your chest. When her silent cries died down to sniffles, Kaila pushed against you. “I guess, I should rethink about my profession.” She undo her buns and let her curls conceal her face.
You tilted her chin up with your index finger and felt a rush wash over you. Kaila looked more gorgeous with her hair down, more than you imagined.
Using your thumb, you dried her cheek. “Why?”
“Well, for once, I failed at being an adult when I’m letting my student comfort me.”
You wanted to kiss her there and then. You have a feeling that she would let you, but you hold back and started joking. This time Kaila laughed. But you know, both of you are holding back, hiding the words you wanted to say through jokes and laughter.
“Oh well, I should get going.” Kaila took the box and stood up. “You should go back to class too before everyone wonder where you went.”
“Yeah,” you replied. She nod and turn on her heel.
You stood up and watch her getting farther away. “Just say it,” you silently reminded yourself. You knew you’d regret it if you didn’t.
You took a deep breath and called out, “Kaila.”
She turned to face you and you notice her hand on the card. “Yes?”
“I love you.”
Kaila flashed you the sweetest smile as the wind blow the untangle strand of her hair across her face, then she says, “I’ll be waiting.”
You were nineteen when you decided it was time to see Kaila, but of course she already graduated, worse she deleted her social media accounts and seemed to have banished.
Two more years later, and here you are, twenty-one years old and unable to move on. You dated someone else, but you know that Kaila is still the ruler of your heart.
You jumped at Steven’s side that Friday afternoon right after the exams. “Let’s go bar hopping.”
“I’m not sure-”
“You’re still depress for being dumped by Anya? The best way to get over it is bar hopping!”
Steve laughed. “I’m not depress okay? Besides, I realized it’s better this way.”
“Even better. Let’s go bar hopping to celebrate.”
Steven laughed. “You really want to bar hopping, isn’t it.”
You grinned. “Yup.” You glanced at the five girls behind you. “I already promised them, so I can’t back off now but I feel bad to be the only man in the group.”
“Okay, let’s go.”
You just stepped out of the first bar when a familiar face caught your attention. She didn’t turn in your direction, but you’re sure it was Kaila. She no longer look dorky but she got the power to bring you back in time.
“Dude, what are you waiting for?” Steven ask with one woman in each arm.
“You guys keep going, I need to be someplace else.”
Steven follow you gaze and he too recognized Kaila. “Go get her dude!”
You nod and left it to Steve to explain the situation to everyone.
With your heart banging against your chest, your feet matching its quick rhythm as you slide though the crowd and grabbed Kaila’s arm. She looked at you and gasped, “You’ve grown taller.”
“No, you’re just tiny.” She looked around. Everyone else was her height or lower. She left her retort hang in the air. You sighed. She’s good at tormenting you as ever. “Okay, okay, I’m a giant. Satisfied?”
She laughed and you felt a stab in your heart. “Why did you vanish? I looked for you.”
Kaila looked at you. “I wanted you to be sure if you truly love me, if it was just a teenage admiration.”
“It’s not. I still love you. Are you still single?”
“Yes.” Her cheeks instantly turn rosy as the sunset behind her. “I never had any boyfriend after we parted.” She fidgeted, and you were loving every minute of it. But as much as you wanted to enjoy it, you’ve waited long enough.
You cupped her cheeks and bravely pressed your lips against hers. “I’m back.”
She laced her fingers behind your neck and kiss you back. “Welcome back.”